Guntram - Encyclopedia

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GUNTRAM, or Gontran (561-592), king of Burgundy, was one of the sons of Clotaire I. On the death of his father (561) he and his three brothers divided the Frankish realm between them,, Guntram receiving as his share the valleys of the Saone and Rhone, together with Berry and the town of Orleans, which he made his capital. On the death of Charibert (567), he further obtained the civitates of Saintes, Angoulbme and Perigueux. During the civil war which broke out between the kings of Neustria and Austrasia, his policy was to try to maintain a state of equilibrium. After the assassination of Sigebert (575), he took the youthful Childebert II. under his protection, and, thanks to his assistance against the intrigues of the great lords, the latter was able to maintain his position in Austrasia. After the death of Chilperic (584) he protected the young Clotaire II. in the same way, and prevented Childebert from seizing his dominions. His course was rendered easier by the fact that his own sons had died; consequently, having an inheritance at his disposal, he was able to offer it to whichever of his nephews he wished. The danger to the Frankish realm caused by the expedition of Gundobald (585), and the anxiety which was caused him by the revolts of the great lords in Austrasia finally decided him in favour of Childebert. He adopted him as his son, and recognized him as his heir at the treaty of Andelot (587); he also helped him to crush the great lords, especially Ursion and Berthefried, who were conquered in la Woevre. From this time on he ceased to play a prominent part in the affairs of Austrasia. He died in 592, and Childebert received his inheritance without opposition. Gregory of Tours is very indulgent to Guntram, who showed himself on occasions generous towards the church; he almost always calls him "good king Guntram," and in his writings are to be found such phrases as "good king Guntram took as his servant a concubine Veneranda" (iv. 25); but Guntram was really no better than the other kings of his age; he was cruel and licentious, putting his cubicularius Condo to death, for instance, because he was suspected of having killed a buffalo in the Vosges. He was moreover a coward, and went in such constant terror of assassination that he always surrounded himself with a regular bodyguard.

See Krusch, "Zur Chronologie der merowingischen Kiinige," in the Forschungen zur deutschen Geschichte, xxii. 451-490; Ulysse Chevalier, Bio-bibliographie (2nd ed.), s.v. " Guntram." (C. PF.)

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